Thank you, Elaine, for sharing Minnie’s story.
When a good friend and someone I have learned much from, Katie C, reached out to me to help with another loose rescue pup name Leia. I said yes. We followed our usual routine and started a group message with volunteers and the rescue. The rescue was totally engaged in doing whatever was needed and as was the foster family. This in itself helps the whole process in general. Sometimes we use the word “textbook” loosely because when helping with a lost dog anything and everything can happen. But , I do know this. There are some steps that have proven to make the journey easier. Leia went loose on a Saturday and was safely trapped by Tuesday morning
- Flyer. Flyer. Flyer. (This was done immediately for Leia)
- Sightings start coming in
- Speak with callers and get better details. Leia was seen several times in yards where flyers had been given to homeowners. Guess what? They called.
- We established a good area for a feeding station and camera and trap. All the meanwhile still flyering.
- Learned and saw for our own eyes Leia in the area and actually engaging the zip tied trap baited with irrestable food. We knew she was comfortable and….
- Set and watched the trap.
- Safely trapped Leia
To say this went like clockwork is true. Flyers generated sightings. Sightings told us areas where she was. Homeowners were willing to allow us to use the tools we needed. Finally, patience and observation helped us capture Leia safely.
Thank you, Rosanne, for sharing Leia’s story.
Susan Hochgraber was so thrilled to see her Belgian Malinois again after 11 days that she almost didn’t mind the “guests” Rosie brought home with her.
“Ugh, the emergency vet found 20 ticks on her the day we got her back,” Hochgraber said. “Then 10 more the next day, and our regular vet found eight more after that. Other than the ticks and a few cuts on her paws, though, she was OK.”
Hochgraber, a canine massage therapist from Midlothian, Ill., had barely had time to get to know the dog she rescued January 15, 2016 before Rosie escaped on April 12.
“Rosie had been rescued from the streets. It took a week and a half just to get her comfortable living with me,” Hochgraber said. “We had just finished her third week of obedience training when she escaped.”
Hochgraber had noticed that Rosie was beginning to jump at fences, so she instructed her dog walker to take off Rosie’s leash only after she had gotten the dog into the house. But the dog walker unleashed Rosie in the yard that day.
Rosie promptly jumped Hochgraber’s 4-ft.-high fence into a neighbor’s yard, and then double-jumped the neighbor’s gate fence into the street. She was gone in a flash.
Hochgraber turned to Lost Dogs Illinois, FindFido’s service, Facebook, friends and neighbors, police departments in surrounding suburbs, and Perfect Pooches, a Chicago-area dog rescue and adoption agency, for advice on getting Rosie back.
“I did everything everyone suggested – flyers, postings, everything,” Hochgraber said. “People reported a lot of sightings, particularly around a park about two blocks from my house, and especially around one of the five ball fields at that park.”
People also reported seeing Rosie along the Metra railroad tracks that run between Midlothian and Robbins. Rosie apparently followed those tracks down to Robbins, where a woman named Charita lives with her family.
“Charita had seen our flyer and called me when she saw Rosie on April 21,” Hochgraber said. “I drove to Robbins, turned a corner and saw Rosie out in a field.”
Hochgraber called out to her dog, which got Rosie’s attention; but when she made a move towards her, the dog bolted in the opposite direction.
Volunteers from Perfect Pooches helped Hochgraber set up humane traps and round-the-clock surveillance in Charita’s backyard and near an abandoned house next to her home. They figured it might be Rosie’s “quiet place,” where she went for the night.
Hochgraber placed Rosie’s blankets in the traps, as well as towels that had the scent of her other dog, a German Shepherd named Buddy. The volunteers baited the traps with some of Rosie’s toys and treats like hot dogs and BBQ chicken from KFC.
The first night, Rosie managed to get the food and even lie on a blanket left inside the trap without tripping the door. The next night, she lay down next to the trap.
The third night, April 23, Rosie lay down inside the trap. stretched out, and tripped the gate door shut. The volunteer on duty waited five minutes to make sure Rosie was inside before calling Hochgraber with the good news.
Hochgraber said she plans to replace her 4-ft. fence with a 6-footer. She put a GPS collar with a tracker on Rosie, “and she is always on leash now when she goes out,” Hochgraber said.
“I’m grateful to Lost Dogs Illinois for all the help and support I got,” Hochgraber said. “LDI suggested things I wouldn’t have thought of doing, such as putting flyers up at gas stations and other high-traffic locations. I am also grateful to all the people who came out and helped me search for my baby girl.”
She added that the people who follow the LDI Facebook page were nothing short of “amazing” with all their reports of sightings and notes of encouragement.
“Their support helped me get through 11 days of hell,” Hochgraber said.
by Lydia Rypcinski
Bella’s story as told by her family:
At 7am Thursday, I received the call we had been waiting for, “Your dog is at the end of our driveway, but headed North when I opened the garage.” “I live on Bordeaux & I have one of your flyers. It’s her. She looks good other than being thin.” said Marie. Off we went armed with heavy treats and for once, HOPE. I knew in my heart of hearts (and my gut) she was still in the area. Marie’s house was actually the house she was last seen at on Friday night by the neighbor (and our new BFF), Bob. We were told not to be excited & shouting her name because she’s scared. Danny dropped me where she ran off to with Lilly (our other dog) and he went to scour the other neighborhood just North.
The plan started. We called some folks at Foster2Home & also a woman named, Vicky, who gave us advice. We could finally make the call we were waiting for to safely trap her. We called Lake County Animal Care to rent a humane trap. I went home to get stinky food, her bowl, a lawn chair and some other things for a stake-out. Our girl was here & I wasn’t leaving till we had her. I set up a mini safety zone for her while I waited for Danny to get the trap. I was at the end of Bob’s property with food, blankets, my clothes (for scent) and of course, Lilly’s markings. She would cry as we walked around the area confirming Bella was close and had been there.
I sat at the neighbors house waiting….no sightings. That was finally okay though, because she WAS there….6 days later. We decide to set up the trap at Marie’s house since she, as we found out by her son, was comfortable showing herself there. He saw her Sunday night there as well. I ran home to get even stinkier food, food for me, clothes, blankets, towels, Lilly, my computer, and even toilet paper. Yes, I was staying a while and wasn’t going to miss her! I parked my car at the neighbor’s half drive facing the trap and low and behold, l locked my keys in the car with Lilly AND my phone. I ran to Bob’s house to call & have Sandy get the second keys. She said she would, but needed to finish something first. So I decided to walk the field just West across the street that had no entrance. That was interesting to get through & added to the already outdoorsy smell I had going. I walked the entire field clicking her leash, using her squeaky toy, very calmly & quietly saying her name. I also waved bacon as it was windy. She was around, I could feel her. She could hear me, I just knew.
I went back to car to get the keys (yes, thank you Sandy) and set up my stakeout. We settled in, Lilly resting in her kennel and me popping open my computer and doing work. I figured it would be dusk before she’d come out. Boy was I wrong, an hour later something catches my right eye, I turn and there’s our Bella boo walking up the drive towards the car. OMG, OMG, OMG is what I felt and then thought, stay calm, grab food, a leash and be quiet. I got out leaving the door open and didn’t see her, so I started throwing food and quietly saying her name…and then the miracle happened, she POKED me with her nose from behind. I swung around and there she stood, tail wagging, eyes red and with a look like ” I’m freaking ready to go mom. You can leash me and I’ ll lead the way.” I am not sure how many times I said OMG in the next 30 seconds….I was shaking. She jumped in the front under the steering wheel and curled up on the pedals and looked at me like, let’s go. All I could think was, did this really happen and was it that easy???? The answer was YES. We had our girl back and I was taking her home. Finally after 6 of the longest days of my life.
What got us here….
#1, FAITH, the ability to believe without seeing. Always keep your faith, trust your instincts (if I hadn’t we wouldn’t have focused there)
#2, ALL of YOU. Without you, I would’ve cracked and who knows if I’d be as persistent. The Facebook community is unreal how quickly things can get out and the love and support that comes with it.
#3, a FLYER and some amazing people who grabbed on to this story and wanted to see her home. You all could imagine what we were going through and wanted her back, too!
And #4, BELLA and HER instincts! She was done with her adventure, smelled me out and found her way to me with that sweet face.
I’m still in disbelief AND I am now whole again. I cannot thank you ALL enough for your love and support. We are overwhelmed by this whole experience.
Stella’s rescue is such an important story to tell. Both the family and Buddha Dog Recovery and Rescue hope that her story can help other families know what to do and what not to do when their pet goes missing.
When Stella went missing on May 13th, a recovery group out of CT urged the family to hire a tracker out of Rhode Island. After paying $450, this tracker told them that Stella was cornered and picked up and taken by someone. Terrified and heart broken at thought of Stella being taken, her family posted signs that Stella was stolen. The truth was, Stella was never picked up, never stolen…she had never left the area as confirmed by countless sightings that started pouring in. The tracker could not have been more wrong. When confronted with the numerous sightings, both the tracker and recovery groups go to answer as always, was that whomever had Stella, let her go. Once again, this recovery group urged the owners to bring this same tracker back out to track Stella AGAIN and still sticking to same bogus story that she had been picked up. Stella was being sighted in a concentrated area, on the same streets over and over and over for a couple of weeks. Instead of setting up much needed traps for Stella, this recovery group had the family doing pointless bacon burns morning, noon and night for several days with the hopes that Stella would just come out of hiding and come out for the owner. Finally, after weeks of wasting precious time, resulting in Stella traveling further away, the recovery group set up a trap that was far too small for Stella. Not only was the trap too small but it was not set up properly and was left unmonitored, leaving a possum in the trap overnight and in to the next day which caused Stella to move from that area…again!
It was at this point that Jenn and I were contacted by the family. New signs were made and the poster coverage was expanded miles out from her last known whereabouts. After almost a week of no sightings, we finally got the call we were waiting for, someone who saw Stella’s poster on facebook, saw her six and half miles away from where she was last seen. More posters went up and we began mapping her extensive travel and figuring out her travel patterns, which included running along and crossing dangerous route 84. We immediately set up traps and an enclosure in the woods alongside route 84, monitored with a wireless feed so that the area would remain undisturbed. We repeatedly got Stella on camera along with a host of her furry friends, which included a very unwelcome fisher cat, a fox, possum and three different cats. The traps were monitored around the clock and many sleepless nights in the car ensued, so that if any of these creatures set off the trap it would be immediately reset so as not to scare Stella off from the area. Not disclosing many of her sightings and the location of the traps were instrumental in Stella’s capture. Stella’s daily travel pattern was a ten mile straight line back and forth appearing at the trap every two to three days. One terrifying night we helplessly watched from a distance as she slept directly along side route 84 by the enclosure, one false move and she would run directly in to traffic. Finally, last night she appeared on camera for what would be her last time, I called Jenn who lived minutes from where our enclosure was set up and she was there momentarily to hear the door slam shut…Stella’s time on the run was finally over! I made the call to Stella’s family and through screams of joy they made their way to meet Jenn and be reunited with their sweet Stella. All the sleepless nights, the poison ivy and poison oak was worth it!!! If proper recovery steps had been taken in the beginning, Stella would never have been in such danger on route 84 and would have been home long ago. By sharing the full story of Stella’s rescue we hope to help other families.
Thank you Buddha Dog Rescue and Recovery for giving us permission to print Stella’s Story.
On an early January evening, while cooking dinner, one of my dogs started barking like crazy at our front door. I went to see why she was barking, and saw a black & white dog in the driveway across the street. I immediately went out and tried to call her, but she just looked at me, went up the driveway and was gone. I rang my neighbor’s doorbell and told them about her. They informed me that they had been seeing her for a couple of weeks. I called Animal Control because I thought it might be someone’s dog from our neighborhood. When the Animal Control officer arrived they did a “drive-by”, didn’t see her, and left. I checked Lost Dogs Illinois’ website to see if I could find any similar dogs that had been posted as missing in the previous two weeks with no luck.
A couple of days went by without a sighting. That Saturday we decided to walk around the neighborhood to see if we could spot her, and we did! We called Animal Control again. When the officer arrived I gave him a description of the dog. He informed me that they had been looking for the same dog for 6-8 weeks. I went back on the Lost Dogs Illinois website to search for missing dogs back to November or December. That is when I saw Pebbles. She had been missing since November 24th from Carpentersville. I wasn’t sure if that was really the dog I was seeing because we live in Elgin. We are about 10 miles from where she was last spotted. Could this really be Pebbles?
At first we were unsure if we should contact the person who posted her to LDI’s page. We weren’t positive it was Pebbles, because she wouldn’t let us get close enough to get a good look, but the similarities were uncanny. Our thought was “some hope is better than no hope” so we got in contact with Rayann, Pebbles’ foster mom. She informed us that Pebbles had gotten out while on a trial adoption with a family in Carpentersville.
Rayann and another woman came out the next night to help us search for her. We had no luck that night, but told Rayann we would not stop trying and would text her if we spotted Pebbles again. Steve spent countless hours tracking and searching the neighborhood. He was out there in a blizzard, and on many below-zero nights, hoping to find signs of where she was sheltering. He had a few leads, but never truly found her it. Pebbles did lead him on a couple of nice long walks around the neighborhood as she darted in between houses and through yards.
We then set up a feeding station at our house, handed out flyers, and knocked on peoples’ doors to generate sightings. It turned out that a lot of people had seen Pebbles. We installed video cameras at our house so we could watch and record when the dog was coming to eat. The first time we got her on video, I sent it to Rayann, and she confirmed it was in fact Pebbles!
At that point, we weren’t sure how we were going to catch her. That’s when I saw a post on LDI’s Facebook page about a dog that had been missing for a year and was recently caught. I commented on the post saying how it gave us hope about catching Pebbles. Susan Taney and Katie Campbell replied to my comment and from there we started messaging on Facebook.
Susan informed me that she had a trap we could borrow. The next night, Susan drove out to our house and showed us how to set the trap and explained how to lure Pebbles into it. We spent two weeks slowly moving the feeding station into the trap. Then, at 3:59am on February 22nd Pebbles worked up the nerve to go all the way into the trap. She set off the trap but, unfortunately, the trap door bounced and she was able to get out. Our hearts were broken. The next day we started the process of slowly moving the feeding station into the trap again. Pebbles was now so leery of the trap that she wouldn’t go anywhere near it. It was time to devise a new plan.
After consulting with Susan and Katie, we decided it would be best to try and get her into our backyard. My husband, Steve, is very handy and extremely talented when it comes to thinking outside the box and putting those ideas into motion. He thought that if we could get her into our backyard and figure out a way to get the gate to close behind her, we could catch her. He rigged up a whole pulley system with ropes and bungee cords tied to our gate, with the other end of the rope tied to a frozen hot dog. Pebbles had a history of taking the food we left out for her and running off with it to eat somewhere else. If she tried to take the hot dog and run she would set off the trap, and the gate door would close behind her before she could get out. Once again, Pebbles outsmarted us. She came into our back yard several times, but each time decided to lie down and enjoy her hot dogs in peace. Again, it was time to figure out a new plan.
Steve made some adjustments to his design, and decided that he was going to attach a rope to the gate and bring it up to the front porch of our house. We were hopeful that when we saw her on the camera in the backyard, we could go out front and pull the rope to close the gate. We tried this every night for about a week, but Pebbles would never come when we were awake. She somehow knew exactly when we went to bed and would show up about 10 minutes later. We nicknamed her “Santa” because she “knew when we were sleeping and when we were awake”. She would then wander around our yard and peacefully eat her hot dogs.
Finally, on March 17th , Steve decided he was going to stay up late to see if she would come. It was around midnight when he saw her on the camera. Her head popped through the open gate and she looked around. She then came all the way into the yard and started sniffing around. Steve immediately went out our front door and pulled the rope with all his might to shut the gate. The gate was closed and she was now in our back yard! I was awakened when he said “I got her…she’s in the back yard!” I instantly called Rayann to tell her the news. She was so excited that she got dressed and headed out our way. Now we had to try to get the slip lead on her, and it wasn’t going to be easy. Pebbles is extremely fearful of people…even those whom she had been seeing and smelling, and who were feeding her daily.
I messaged Katie and Susan for advice. Katie suggested one of us go out there with food, sit down, and slowly scooch our way toward Pebbles. I armed myself with a bowl of cut up hot dogs and headed to the backyard. I sat down and had Pebbles in my sight, never making direct eye contact with her. I used yawning and lip licking as calming signals, while pretending to eat the hot dog pieces and gently tossing some to her. Every couple of minutes I would scooch a little closer and she would move away a little more. After about an hour and a half I was able to get her in the corner behind our garage and shed. She let me get close enough that I could softly pet her and tell her it was going to be ok. I pulled the slip lead out of my pocket and gently slid it over her head. She never resisted. She knew her ordeal was over and she was safe. I called Steve to let him know that he and Rayann could come outside. Rayann was so happy to see Pebbles, and Pebbles was happy to see her too! We were all in tears.
On March 18th at 2:00am, after three months, several failed attempts, a blizzard, below zero temperatures, accidentally trapping a raccoon, and overwhelming concern for her safety, Pebbles was finally safe! Pebbles is now in her forever home with Rayann (who is going to adopt her!) and all of her doggie siblings. She got a bath, a new collar and tags, and is proudly strutting around showing everyone. A very happy ending to a long adventure for everyone!
Thank you Amy for sharing your story! You and Steve rock as Good Samaritans!
Using a portable grill can be very helpful in catching a shy, scared dog. If you are getting sightings of your dog in a general area, we recommend setting up a feeding station. This can help to keep a lost dog in one area and eventually lead to capture. However, sometimes it is difficult to get a lost dog to find the feeding station. Grilling meats with a portable grill can help!
The smell of bacon or bratwurst cooking on a grill is very strong. Humans can pick up the scent of grilled meats when someone in the neighborhood is grilling out. Which means a hungry dog can also pick up that yummy, tempting scent, but from an even greater distance since dogs have a much better sense of smell than humans.
When you are grilling for a shy, lost dog, you must do it very quietly. You do not want to scare him out of the area. Pick a location near to where your dog’s sightings have been, but make sure it is an area that is people-free and safe for your dog (away from roadways, train tracks and thawing ponds). If your sightings have been consistent and you suspect that your dog is using a regular path of travel, then we recommend grilling near that pathway. This can improve your chances of your dog finding the tempting food. It is also important to get permission from the landowner to grill on their property. Make sure to read and abide by the grilling instructions included with your portable grill. Never leave a grill unattended.
Once you choose the location and receive permission from the owner of the property – you can begin. It is best to only have ONE person grilling to prevent your dog from getting scared away by the sounds of your voices. Remember, for a shy, lost dog – two’s a crowd! Once your grill is set up and the meat is cooking, quietly sit in the area for as long as it takes to cook. When the meat is cooked, you can place it on the ground or in your dog’s dish. If possible, set up a trail camera facing the grilled food, so you will know who has stopped by to eat and when (set the time/date function on the camera).
Don’t be disappointed if your dog does not find the food within 24 hours. Just grill quietly again the next day and leave the area. If your dog is seen eating the grilled food, it is important to continue to keeep yummy, tempting food at this location. He or she will be sure to stop by again for more. Once you know that your dog is coming to this feeding station on a regular basis, you can consider setting up a humane live trap near the food. Please see our articles on humane trapping for details.
Good luck and happy grilling! Remember, your lost dog is depending on YOU to bring him safely home.
Colleen Duero, Lost Dogs of Wisconsin Volunteer